Monday 6th September 2010
Swallows and house martins have been feeding on insects in preparation for their long migration. Throughout August, few can have failed to see the excited behaviour of these birds as they gathered on telephone and power lines waiting for the right opportunity to leave these shores.
On one occasion in August, their behaviour was frenetic. Hundreds of them were flying around an oak tree and frequently alighting in its branches. The activity reached a crescendo before they all left, heading south. The day was warm and the wind was from the north. Their instinct obviously told them it was time to leave. The northerly wind would assist their crossing of the English Channel.
September is an excellent time of year to spot migrants as they pass through Lerryn on their way to the coast. A few days ago, 4 spotted flycatchers were feeding on insects over a field in the village. They were flying out from their perches to catch the flying insects and then returning to the same spot to eat their prey. Typical behaviour for these summer migrants.
Yesterday (5th September), a wryneck was spotted in the heart of the village. This member of the woodpecker family is rarely seen in Britain but, occasionally shows during the autumn migration to Africa. Several have been seen in Cornwall over the last few days so it is worth keeping your eyes open. Ants are the favourite food of this bird.
Another bird passing through the fields around Lerryn at the moment is the wheatear. It can be recognised in flight by its distinctive white rump (don't confuse them with the more familiar house martins which also have a white rump but rarely land at all except when gathering mud for their nests). Sometimes, these birds can be seen in the fields around Ethy House when passing through on their migration. At Lantivet Bay, on Thursday, 2nd September, they could be seen gathering along the coastline in readiness for their crossing of the Channel. The wheatear is one of the first birds to arrive in the spring, and one of the first to leave in the autumn.
Meanwhile, the last broods of our resident birds are struggling to mature before the winter arrives. We keep our fingers crossed for this young song thrush which fledged a few days ago.
You can see lists of bird sightings in Cornwall by clicking on the button below